Just before I went into third grade, I went to a summer camp near my house. A girl my age named Mollie and I were in gymnastics together, which was one of the camp activities offered. After gymnastics on one nondescript day, Mollie turned to me and said, “You know, your nose flares when you speak.” I was mortified and speechless. Another girl stood by as Mollie said this to me. She and Mollie giggled to themselves as they walked away.
Being 8-years-old, I didn’t have the equipment to respond to this comment. I had never been unkind to Mollie. Rather, I’d tried to befriend her. Instead of being kind to me, she appeared to delight in making me feel small and insecure. Thankfully, she and I did not go to the same school, so I only had to deal with Mollie at summer camp. I avoided her after this exchange.
A few years later, my eldest male cousin decided that my nose looked like a ski jump. For the remainder of my tween and teen years, he and his siblings referred to me as “Ski Jump.” Again, finding myself mortified because of descriptors related to my nose, I withdrew when my cousins showed up. To my dismay, we spent every holiday with those cousins. Thankfully, the nickname fell away around the time I went to college.
Obviously, these unkind but truthful comments have never left me. Over the years, as I processed how I felt, I realized those comments were factually correct. I also came to understand that they could have been delivered more kindly, or not at all. Absent those circumstances, I eventually would have realized that my nose is pointy and that my nares flare when I speak. I didn’t need the words to be delivered as they were - in a cutting, hurtful manner.
Some people use facts as weapons. Under circumstances like those above, the delivery is meant to be unkind and disabling. The deliverer will likely want to you believe that the fact is pure and unadulterated. You are not required to believe this. You are smart enough to detect this lie and address it directly.
If you find yourself in a circumstance similar to one of the above, try this: thank the deliverer for his or her comments. Praise your own attributes. Disarm the deliverer by owning what is yours.
Follow your nose.